The IOC’s party line on China is leaked

The international media, having forced the International Olympic Committee and Chinese authorities’ hands over access to the internet in Beijing, was claiming another success today, with the leaking of an entire 48-page briefing document carrying policy positions on a range of China-related topics from the Lausanne-based sports body.

Marked prominently “Confidential – For Internal Use Only”, the document is now openly available on the web thanks to work by the German public service broadcaster, Südwestrundfunk.

The Beijing Briefing Kit states the IOC official position on a wide range of non-governmental organisation concerns, ranging from air quality in the Chinese capital, China’s relationships with Sudan and Darfur, religious freedoms and freedom of speech.

The kit was published a year ago, to mark the one-year countdown to the Beijing Games. The foreword by Giselle Davies, the IOC’s director of communications, states:

“We are already seeing a surge of interest … From experience we know that when we enter into the final 12 months we can expect a shift in the focus and quantity of Games coverage. This will be even more the case with Beijing 2008, given the world’s heightened interest in China and China-related issues.

“This kit has been prepared to help the Olympic family respond to the types of questions and queries we expect that you will be confronted with in the coming months. Most of the topics will be familiar to you as they have been covered in previous briefing kits. In this edition, however, we have outlined the more difficult frequently-asked questions (FAQs) that the IOC receives on a day-to-day basis.

“Our intent is not to instruct you on how to answer questions, but to show you how we prepare to respond in the best way possible and continue to clarify the IOC and Olympic Movement’s role and position.”

The guide carefully charts all the issues raised before the Olympic Games and provides IOC officials with stock answers to feed to journalists. Should a journalist for instance ask an IOC official a question about crackdowns on media freedom in the run up to the Olympics, the guidelines advise the interviewee to answer along these lines:

“Based on a historical perspective, more advances are being made than at any time in China’s recent past. Journalists may not yet see the full effects of these new changes, but we are confident that with the time the adaptation will be successful.”

To obtain your own copy of this IOC confidential document, click here.

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